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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo courtesy of Kinsa

Kinsa, a startup that makes and distributes internet-connected smart thermometers, is developing a data hub that can provide highly specific forecasts about infectious disease outbreaks, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Days matter when it comes to heading off a new outbreak or surge, and better forecasting models can help policymakers act to stop disease disasters before they're out of control.

How it works: Kinsa's millions of smart thermometers give the company what founder and CEO Inder Singh calls "highly sensitive data about where and when outbreaks are occurring, and how fast they're spreading," weeks before cases start to show up in doctor's offices and hospitals.

  • Yes, but: Kinsa's existing model "is not super specific," Singh says. While some predictions can be made if fevers start to spike outside normal cold or flu seasons — as was the case when Kinsa picked up rising fevers in March 2020 — "it doesn't say 'this is the flu,' or 'this is COVID.'"

What's new: Kinsa is building an updated data hub that will be able to take data on fevers and symptoms from its smart thermometers and app and pair that with broader health data about what's going on in a community.

  • This will include COVID-19 vaccination and hospitalization rates, genetic epidemiology of viruses in circulation, mobility data, stay-at-home orders — even information about the demand for cold and flu medication.
  • Put all that together, and you can create a prediction model that is both highly sensitive to emerging outbreaks and "highly specific about differentiating between illnesses," Singh says.

What to watch: Kinsa is already picking up on an unusual rise over the past month in influenza-like illness among 2- to 9-year-olds, which is 23% above normal for this time period and could represent COVID, flu, colds or something else.

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Health

Puerto Rico leads U.S. COVID vaccination rates

A mass vaccination event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 31. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico has the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in the United States as of Oct. 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The island has managed to accomplish such feats amid frequent power outages, earthquakes and high dependence on imports of health technologies from outside the region.

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 19, 2021 - Health

J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year

J&J's COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson registered $502 million of global revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine in the third quarter, bringing year-to-date vaccine sales to $766 million.

The big picture: J&J, which is selling the vaccine at a not-for-profit price of $7.50 per dose, still expects to generate $2.5 billion of COVID vaccine sales this year, executives said Tuesday. But that total will still dwarf the use and sales of the vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.